An estimated 536 million Indians are expected to use regional languages while online by 2021, complemented by increasing affordability of devices and data charges and availability of more local content, a report by Google-KPMG says. The report estimates that Hindi Internet users (at 201 million) will outnumber those accessing the web in English at 199 million by 2021. India is expected to have 735 million Internet users by the same time from 409 million in 2016.
Interestingly, a significant number of Indian language Internet users already access government services, classifieds, news and payment services “exclusively online”. Indic language users are not just accessing chat apps and digital entertainment but are also opting for digital payments methods.
In 2016, the total number of Internet users who accessed Internet in Indian languages and English stood at 234 million and 175 million, respectively.
Apart from Hindi, Marathi and Bengali users are expected to drive volume growth, while Tamil, Kannada and Telegu users are expected to be among the most digitally engaged through 2016 to 2021. Marathi, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu online users are expected to form almost one-third of the total Indic language user base.
“Growth in user base will be complemented by increasing penetration of Internet-enabled devices, availability of affordable high-speed Internet, rising digital literacy and Indian language enablement of the ecosystem bringing and engaging more Indian language users online,” the report says.
Given that nine out of 10 new Internet users in India are likely to be an Indic language user, Google has been ramping support for Indian languages across its various products like Maps and Search. This will ensure that more people can access Internet in a language of their choice.